The anatomy of a shoot

How do I structure a shoot…?

This is one of those vague questions, but I will try to share with you how I approach a conclusion… successful or otherwise… (this will be a bumpy ride, but stick with it, we will get there…)

One framework I use to organise my thoughts is; what, so what, now what… Basically, what do I need to achieve, why does it matter (and to whom), and what should happen next…

Invariably, even if this is a personal assignment, these questions need to be answered and validated very early on before any real effort is put in… It gives the whole process a framework, and potentially encourages greater success than not using any sort of framework, or just winging it.

So, let’s illustrate this with an example, a local photography club want to encourage their members to keep pushing forward. They want to increase their enthusiasm. Each member has a unique set of desires and dreams… To keep them focussed a practical demonstration is arranged every meeting to focus on a particular style or genre of photography. These form the “what”

Some of these are occasionally merged into one session for expediency.

Amongst their many suggestions, members have requested night photography, capturing motion and light painting. Now we can merge these together…

I have been using my portrait style to demonstrate these practical sessions, and hopefully provide some encouragement…

For this upcoming session an idea started forming from these requirements, keeping in mind that it has to be simple to achieve, informative and engaging. This is the “so what” part, the target here is to illustrate as many genres as possible, attempting to perhaps influence, or expose, the members to different formative creative directions…

Motion and night photography say long exposures to me. Luckily where the club operates we are not short of some spectacular lighting and water displays. That works, an image right there…

There is also an opportunity here for light painting… Another image there…

(a lovely collection here:

(another lovely collection here:

(and another here:

An aside here, we have just experienced GPP2012, the largest gathering of photographers in region. A great deal of fun for those obsessed with photography which wrapped with a shoot out between David Hobby, Martin Prihoda and Mr. Gregory Heisler… It’s no surprise who won. But the image that Martin attempted caught my attention.

(A lovely review of the shoot out by David Hobby here:

I also have another mistress driving me, my desire to turn every image into a portrait… Why not try and keep the majority happy.

As you can see, the idea comes together from a large variety of disparate sources. As a result becomes a hybrid solution..,

The opportunity here is to create a number of unique standalone images, which then also form the components of the main image.

So, now we have the “what”, and the “so what”, now comes the “now what”…

We have a 45 minute window in which to achieve all the above.

Key thing here is to get to the point and deliver the component images, then combine them to form the hybrid image. Plenty of audience participation, everyone is a winner…

So what are our component images:

  • A night exposure
  • A light painting
  • A light painting and night exposure combined

Resulting in:

  • An ambient light adjusted exposure and night light balanced image with light painting. (my little twist of turning this into a portrait)

Is this what eventually happened, well in a word no…



We ended up with the merged image, which everyone collaborated in…. a result from an educational perspective. Hopefully, some of the members left with a slightly different view of the world…



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: